Governor Ralph Northam today directed the Virginia Employment Commission to invest $20 million to dramatically expand the agency’s ability to process complicated unemployment insurance claims. Executive Directive Sixteen requires the agency add 300 new adjudication staffers, make immediate technology upgrades, and complete a full modernization of the Commonwealth’s unemployment insurance system by October 1, 2021.
While Virginia ranks sixth in the nation for the timely payment of benefits to eligible applicants, the Governor’s action will speed up the resolution of cases flagged as potentially fraudulent or ineligible. These cases represent approximately four percent of all claims.
Executive Directive Sixteen directs the VEC to take three immediate actions to adjudicate claims faster:
• Set a clear goal for resolving UI claims. Governor Northam has directed the VEC to increase the number of adjudications being processed per week from 5,700 to 10,000 by June 30 and to 20,000 by July 31, 2021. This will be accomplished, in part, by finalizing a $5 million contract for over 300 additional adjudication officers. The VEC is also coordinating with the Virginia Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM) to identify employees across Virginia’s state agencies who can temporarily support this effort.
• Continue investment in Customer Contact Center. Since the onset of the pandemic, the VEC has quadrupled its customer service capacity to provide information and support to Virginians with questions about their claims. Governor Northam has directed the VEC to expedite an additional contract for services and staff to augment the current expansion.
• Modernize the benefits system. Historic claim volume during the COVID-19 pandemic had previously delayed the VEC’s progress in modernizing its 41-year-old benefits system. The agency has resumed the project, executing a contract for $5 million in state funding for technology upgrades. October 1, 2021 has been set as the target date for completing the final phase of the system. The VEC will be implementing additional technology upgrades for customer service in the coming weeks to increase capacity.
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